Bruges Travel Guide

The Venice of the North, the city of swans, the ultimate medieval city – Bruges has a lot of nicknames. Here’s my guide on how to make the most of your getaway to swoon-worthy Bruges.

Bruges River

How to get there
The easiest way of getting to Bruges is by train from the airport – one leaves every hour. If you just miss one and don’t want to wait, you can take a train to Brussels-Zuid first and then transfer. Both routes should take about an hour and a half. Once at Bruges station, you can either take a bus – there are plenty – to the centre or enjoy a brisk, 20-minute walk.

Bruges City Hall

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See and do
First off, a walk through picturesque Bruges is a great experience all on its own. Two particularly stroll-worthy neighbourhoods are the Gouden-Handrei and the Sint-Anna quarter, both less touristy and historic. Other popular ways to explore Bruges are boat rides along the crisscrossing canals or by bike (the way most locals get around). A major attraction is climbing the 336-step Belfry tower that watches over the main market square. The panoramic view is well worth the work-out! Look out for the vans selling frites next to the bell tower – they’re the best fries in Bruges. Fries are one of the national dishes of Belgium, so these are not to be missed.

Bruges attracted many of yesteryear’s great artists and their work. The Groeningemuseum has been able to assemble a world-renowned collection of works by the Flemish Primitives such as Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling. The Church of Our Lady holds one of Michelangelo’s few sculptures to be found outside of Italy, the Madonna with Child.

For the hopeless romantics – legend has it that walking across the bridge at Minnewater (aka the Lake of Love) will grant eternal love to a couple. It’s a tradition for tourists to share a smooch with the frog statue at the Burg Square. Apparently, the statue will turn into a prince or princess after kiss number 100,000.

Belgian Chocolate

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Food and drink
Chocolate lovers – Bruges won’t let you down! The Old Chocolate House, Olivier’s Chocolate, and The Chocolate Line will become your new favourite spots. My tip – grab a hot chocolate at The Old Chocolate House and sit by one of their gorgeous stained-glass windows.

With just 20 seats, De Stove has an intimate feel. The speciality is fish caught daily but the monthly changing menu also includes the likes of wild boar fillet on oyster mushrooms. For something a little more special, Patrick Devos is a big deal in Belgian gastronomy. Dinner is served in four different drawing rooms and the menu showcases the best regional ingredients.

Café Rose Red has a revolving selection of artisanal beers and décor of red roses dangling from the ceiling. Other beer hot spots that stand out from the crowd are the homey ‘t Brugs Beertje, the 500-year-old Café Vlissinghe, and student hot spot ‘t Poatersgat. For canal views, it’s hard to beat Braambergstraat, try Café ‘t Klein Venetië for views of the Belfry and the medieval houses. This spot is particularly cool in the evenings.

Bruges Canal

Where to stay
Bruges has a number of truly exceptional B&Bs, and Canal Deluxe Bed and Breakfast is one of them. With just a handful of rooms It’s located close to the centre, yet quietly located on a tranquil canal, and oozes charm. For something a little bigger but just as full of character, Hotel De Tuilerieën is in a 15th-century house but with a modern twist. Don’t miss out on their prosecco breakfast served in the ornate dining room.

Book now: We fly twice daily from Dublin to Brussels and offer seamless connections from North America.

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